Opponents of a bill that would require Nebraskans to present photo identification to vote stated their case today in anticipation of the legislature’s debate on the bill.
A news conference held in the Capitol Rotunda represented more than 20 organizations opposed to LB 239, sponsored by Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, expected to come before the Unicameral for debate later this week.
“We’re talking needless government regulations when needless government regulations are, in general, very unpopular,” declared Linda Duckworth with the Nebraska League of Women Voters.
Adam Morfeld with Nebraskans for Civic Reform, which organized the news conference, stated the coalition opposes the measure for four reasons: that voter impersonation isn’t a problem in Nebraska, that the bill would prove costly to counties, that the bill contains no provision for voter education and that it would disproportionately impact the poor, youth, senior citizens, the disabled and minorities.
Executive Director Larry Dix with the Nebraska Association of County Officials stated that counties oppose the measure, primarily because of how it would affect county budgets.
“We have polled our counties and it will range anywhere between 15-and-55 cents per registered voter per election,” according to Dix. “So this is an ongoing cost that is going to significantly impact the county’s budget every time we have a statewide election.”
Douglas County Commissioner Mike Boyle said all the commissioners, both Democrats and Republicans, have come out opposed to the measure.
“And I’d like to say, if this were necessary, we wouldn’t be here opposing it,” Boyle stated. “If this were something that should be done, we would have unanimously supported it, but we don’t. We know, we’re on the front line, this isn’t necessary. Please don’t strap us with more additional unfunded mandates, particularly one that makes no sense and is not needed.”
Protestors emphasized the expected impact on older Nebraskans, noting that some elderly residents no longer drive and don’t have photo identification. That’s only part of the problem with the bill, according to AARP Nebraska’s Mark Intermill.
“At AARP, we believe LB 239 addresses a problem that doesn’t exist. It could complicate voting for people who don’t have a photo ID and it will add to the cost of running elections in Nebraska. And, for those reasons, AARP thinks that this is a bill that should not pass,” Intermill stated.
The bill would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. It is expected to come before the legislature for debate later this week. A filibuster could be mounted against it.
The organizations represented during the news conference opposed to LB 239:
ADAPT NE – Statewide Living Council
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
ARC of Nebraska
Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN)
Black Men United
Center for People in Need
Common Cause Nebraska
Douglas County Commissioners
Latino American Commission
Nebraska Advocacy Services
Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs
Nebraskans for Civic Reform
Nebraska League of Women Voters
Nebraska State Education Association
North Omaha Voter Participation Project
Progressive Research Institute